Main Almost Bridge 7F60 by Richard Pavlicek
And now, folks, it is my pleasure to introduce this evenings guest speaker. Lets all give a warm welcome to Miss Emily Litella!
Thank you, Richard, and good evening ladies and gentlemen. I was asked to speak to you tonight about the first round duck and I am pleased to say I have done a lot of research. Let me begin:
According to ornithology experts, fossils formed in the Paleocene Epoch depict a bird species that had a curved underside. This is the earliest known existence, and the genealogy has been traced to the present-day mallard. Over a span of 20 million years the curvature evolved into webbed feet
Whoa! Emily, this is supposed to be about bridge!
Oh. Never mind.
Thanks, Emily, but I think Id better take it from here. Consider this deal:
|None Vul|| 3 2|
A K Q 10
K 9 8 7
A K 3
| K 9 8 7 6|
9 8 7 6
| 10 5|
J 10 6 5
10 9 8 7 6 5
|Lead: 9|| A Q J 4|
J 4 3 2
A 3 2
Norths raise to 4 showed at least 19 points, so South tried for slam by bidding 4 (ace showing). North then used Blackwood to ask for aces and kings, and placed the final contract. Six hearts is a decent contract, basically needing the spade finesse, and there are additional chances if it fails.
West led a trump, won in dummy, and a second top trump was led to discover the 4-1 break (East pitched a club). A spade was led to the jack and West made a clever play, ducking the first round. Declarer crossed to dummy in hearts to repeat the spade finesse, but this time it lost and a trump return eliminated any chance declarer might have had. Down two.
Great defense! Wests first-round duck was more devastating than it might seem. Had he won the king, declarer could get home by ruffing his fourth spade in dummy, and eventually squeezing East in the minors (more about this later). Curiously, even if declarer knew where all the cards were, he could not make the contract after West ducked the first spade lead.
Can the contract be made? Yes, and Ill bet you cant figure out how. You might wish to try before reading on.
Give up yet?
Looking at all four hands (but not in real life), South could succeed with the same remarkable tactic: a first-round duck. On the first spade lead from dummy South must play the four. Assume West wins cheaply and returns a trump (nothing matters) won by North. Lead a spade to the ace, then the Q for a ruffing finesse. Assume West covers and dummy ruffs, leaving North on lead in this ending:
K 9 8 7
A K 3
| 9 8|
J 10 6 5
10 9 8
A 3 2
Win the K (a key play) and lead a diamond to the ace. Draw Wests last trump and cash the J, discarding diamonds from dummy. East is caught in a squeeze. Either Souths 3 or Norths 3 will be good, and declarer wins the rest.
Got that, Emily?
In fond remembrance of Gilda Radner, creator of the Emily Litella character.
© 1999 Richard Pavlicek